Fasting :: deny thyself

by You Have My Word

“You shall have no other gods before me.” (Exodus 20:3)

There is a beautiful double-barrel, two-birds-with-one-stone, tug-of-war truth that is entrenched in the habit of fasting. Our purpose of fasting is two fold. Bear with me as I explain the fine line between paradigm shift:

Fasting is both an act of giving something up in surrender to God, and an act of denying the self.

Fasting demonstrates a willingness to relinquish what we hold dearest to us as a way of saying that God is still our number one. Fasting keeps us humble. Fasting forces us to come to terms with, and get rid of, things in our lives that we have come to regard and worship as idols. Fasting gives glory to God as the only One who has a hold on, and control of, our lives.

This means different things for different people – caffeine, TV, food, music, exercise, social media, [insert thing here]. I’ll go as far as to say, if the thing you are fasting does not cause great discomfort, unease, withdrawal or (let’s get real) pain, then the sacrifice is not great enough. God is a jealous God, he will not share your heart with anything else.

Here’s the other exquisite side of the coin: fasting puts us second. Simple, you say. But how often do we get so caught up in ourselves? Our problems, our successes, our pains, our stress, our kids, our lives, our needs. Fasting denies us the liberty, and even pleasure, of self. Fasting denies the flesh – our naturally sinful nature.

Every time I say “no”, I am saying “no” to self. I am saying that I desire what God wants, not what I want, above all else. I am declaring, through my actions, that God will be my focus and not myself. My God, not my self.

So, every time I feel that pang of hunger, I remind myself to pray. Sometimes praying is the last thing I want to do. But it’s not about me, is it?